The science behind the science...

Oasis on the ridge

Who'd want to live on a mid-ocean ridge? Incredibly, lots of beasties....

The environment around hydrothermal vents is pretty hostile by human standards. Away from the vent, the seawater is freezing cold and no light from the surface reaches this far. Close to the vent, the water is warmed by the hydrothermal and volcanic activity but toxic chemicals spewed out of the vent are poisonous to most creatures. And then there's the risk of getting boiled alive if you get too close to the vent fluids!

Amazingly, in spite of all this, hydrothermal vent environments are often teeming with life! Studies of hydrothermal vents have shown that most of the creatures living around vents are specially adapted to cope with the harsh conditions. Some beasts actually use the sulphide minerals instead of sunlight to produce energy; others have evolved to withstand the intense heat of the vent fluids.

Above: Examples of tubeworms - one of the most common types
of creature found around hydrothermal vents

Above: vent shrimps also thrive around hydrothermal vents. The shrimp have a heat sensitive eye to allow them to feed on microbes in very hot areas without getting boiled alive.

(This page is still under construction...please bear with us!!)

Go to:

Hydrothermal vents: introduction
Mineral water with a difference
Treasure at the bottom of the ocean?
Oasis on the ridge

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